There are numerous tools available on the market designed to make it easier for businesses to broadcast emails to their target audiences. One of their greatest benefits, over say Microsoft Outlook, is their reporting capability. Cicada works with Oxford based Client Mailer, who offer a value-added service that includes the design of highly professional email templates for businesses.

When someone reading your newsletter clicks a link to a website, a website analytics tool can provide you with valuable information on what they then did. And you can use this to refine future newsletters so they are more focused on profitable activity. There are lots of website analytics tools on the market and one of the best known is Google Analytics.

This article provides a detailed step-by-step guide to setting up Google Analytics (‘GA’) for this purpose. It assumes that you already have GA working on your website, that you’ve poked around with the software a little, but don’t know the in’s-and-out’s of it very well. It introduces the concept of tracking ‘conversions’ from your newsletter and shows you how to set up a conversion goal for your website.

A quick look at the kinds of reports offered by email marketing tools

Different email systems offer different levels of reporting, but they all generally allow you to see who opened your email and which links within them were clicked. Useful information can be generated from these two pieces of data. For example, who didn’t open your email and how many emails ‘bounced’ – ie never got to the address.

Going a bit further, many email systems allow you report on trends, showing for example how popular links were, ie how many were clicked on by all the people that opened the email. If a link connects to say, one of your products or services this can provide some useful business insights. When combined with the contact details in your database, yet another layer of intelligence can be reported on, for example, where your interested audiences are located around the country or around the world.

A characteristic of all this reporting is that it stops once people have finished with the email and have gone, hopefully, to your website. And this is where a website’s analytics package takes over.

How can Google Analytics help me?

So, you’ve sent some enthusiastic readers of your newsletter to your website. What next? Well, Google Analytics (‘GA’) reports on all the visitors to your website so the first thing you can do is understand how many of them came via a newsletter campaign. This in itself can be a useful metric but the number of visits to a site is seldom enough. Getting visitors to take some kind of action is where the money is, often literally.

The objective here is to create ‘funnels’ through your website that end at ‘conversion goals’. On an e-commerce site, the shopping process itself is one of the most important funnels. It often begins at a product category page (such as ‘Men’s shirts’), then the product itself (‘Dark blue Polo shirt, size = Medium, quantity = 1’). Then the basket page, the checkout page, payment processing and ending up with the ‘Thank you’ page. In this example, getting people to the ‘Thank you’ page is the goal.

On business to business websites, you might wish to define other sorts of goals. For example:

  • Signing up for an email newsletter
  • Completing an enquiry form or a ‘call me back’ form
  • Visiting the ‘Contact us’ page

More about ‘conversions goals’

GA allows you to define and report on up to 20 ‘conversion goals’. These can be when a visitor:

  • reaches a specific page on your website
  • spends more than a specific amount of time on the site
  • visits more than a specific number of pages

So for example, on an e-commerce site, you could set up a goal for ‘when a visitor has completed a purchase’. Common page destinations for this are the ‘/thank-you’ page or the ‘/checkout’ page.

How to set up a conversion goal in Google Analytics

  • Login to your google analytics account at
  • Click on the name of your account
  • Click on ‘Edit’ on the right hand side of the next page (under the ‘Actions’ title)

You should find the goals section about half way down the page.

  • Click ‘Add goal’, give it a name, and select Goal Type = URL Destination
  • You don’t at this stage need to create a ‘funnel’

How to test that your conversion goal is working

When you’ve set up a goal, you’ll need to leave GA to run for a few days to gather information. This will allow you to confirm that it’s working properly. Remember that GA only updates once every 24 hours.

Here’s how to test it and to see what proportion of the total visitors to you site actually purchased something:

  • Login to your google analytics account at
  • Click on the name of your account
  • Click on ‘View report’
  • On the left hand menu, click on ‘Visitors’ (third item from the top)
  • This tells you how many people visited the site in any period you specify
  • Now click on ‘Goals’ – towards the bottom of the menu
  • This tells you how many goals were completed

When you’re sure it’s working you can send out your next newsletter. You’ll now see how many people purchased a product as a direct consequence of the newsletter. Like this:

  • From the left hand menu, click on ‘Traffic Sources’
  • Click on ‘All Traffic Sources’
  • A list will appear, showing you where your site visitors have come from. Google will probably feature quite heavily in there, and you should be able to identify those that have come from your email campaign
  • Clicking on ‘Goal Set 1’ will show you what percentage of your newsletter readers actually made a purchase. This is sometimes called the ‘Buy to click’ ratio.
  • In this example the Buy-to-Click ratio is 15% which means that 15% of the people who clicked a link in the email newsletter subsequently went on to place an order online.

Great! But what next?

The way in which you use this information will vary according to your business. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take a look at your ‘Buy to click’ information in GA. Now look in your newsletter and see whereabout the links were that got clicked on and resulted in a conversion. Often, links towards the top of a newsletter get clicked on more often than ones lower down. If you’re promotinmg several producst in a newsleter, it might be beneficial to place higher value ones nearer the top of your list.
  • Experiment with how much information you put in your newsletters. Do you get more traffic and conversions by just writing teaser sentences, or do your clients respond better to longer explanations?

The point is, that you now have a way of getting real and immediate feedback on how your clients are responding to your newsletters. This knowledge should help you to focus your newsletters, and indeed your business, on what your clients need and want.

Want to find out more?

For further help and advice on email newsletters contact Peter Davey at Client Mailer.

For further help and advice with Google Analytics, contact Ned Wells at Zanzi Digital